Now it seems that wergeld has been revived in Ontario:
Victims of crime claimed victory amid cries of chequebook justice from critics Wednesday as an Ontario court endorsed a plea bargain that gives a woman $2 million from the men convicted of shattering her spine with a would-be assassin’s bullet.
The controversial deal, approved by Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant, was designed to provide restitution to Louise Russo, who faces a lifelong struggle after she was gunned down in a drive-by shooting at a Toronto sandwich shop two years ago.
Bryant was defiant as he insisted the promise of cash had no impact on the sentences doled out by Superior Court Justice David Watt to the five men who pleaded guilty to various charges, including conspiracy to commit murder.
As part of Wednesday’s agreement, Antonio Borrelli, the man who pulled the trigger, was sentenced 12 years in prison, while Paris Christoforou, Mark Peretz and Peter Scarcella were each sentenced to 11 years behind bars.
With time already served taken into account, Borrelli faces 10 years behind bars, and the three co-accused nine years each.
Filippo Cutulle — who was not involved in the shooting, but charged in connection with subsequent crimes with the co-accused — was sentenced to three years behind bars, which amounts to 17 months when time served is taken into account.
We all naturally have sympathy for Louise Russo's plight. The criminals who left her paralyzed for life should be held both criminally and financially responsible.
But the criminal justice system cannot properly be engaged in the realm of tort. The crime committed against Louise Russo was not just committed against her, but against the Crown--by extension, the whole of Canadian society. Confusing the two systems--one to punish offences against the people and state, the other to compensate personal loss and injury--will inevitably lead to attempts to treat tort law as adjunct of the criminal law.
Tort law need only concern itself with apportioning liability for an injury done by one person to another. Liability need only be established on the balance of probabilities, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt, since it does not put the tortfeasor's life and liberty in jeopardy.
But Louise Russo's injury is not just a private economic loss, but a crime committed against society. Permitting even the perception of being able to buy one's way out of prison time trivializes both the personal injury and the crime.
Let her be compensated, by all means. But in civil action, not criminal trial.
Source: Toronto Star